This month has been a busy one beyond belief for me, for a hotchpotch of reasons, some good and others not so much.
I’ve been industriously buzzing around sorting, organising, planning for everything from a likely house move, through a (not-looked-forward-to) operation, to a couple of weddings – one in the glorious setting of Amberly Castle, the other in Sweden.
All of which hasn’t left me much time to put hands to keyboard and turn travel experiences into readable articles. But I can’t let July slip dreamily by without bringing you a little piece of summertime joy to go along with the hazy and stormy weather of recent weeks.
And since I’ve mentioned ‘buzzing’ around, there’s no better way to do this than introducing you to New Milton Wildflower Meadow – a sweet little patch of roadside verge brimming with beauty and bees – by way of 31 images, one for each day of the month.
I discovered this floral gem on an everyday trip to the supermarket a few weeks back, while the recent June heatwave was in full melt. As I navigated the mini-roundabout between Lymington Road and Milford Road, on the southern edge of the Hampshire town of New Milton, my attention was caught by the kaleidoscopic flash of hues and shapes on the far side of the road. I wasn’t able to take it in properly as I was driving, but felt compelled enough to return later the same day to take a closer look.
But I had no idea WHERE to begin. Splashes of vivid red, bursts of yellow and orange, streaks of purple…big floppy flowers, tight compact flowers, raggedy green blades of grass, clusters of white cow parsley, pale pink poppies, spiky thistles…each and every inch a microcosm of natural wealth.
As I wondered what to focus on first, nature made the choice for me. A blip of stripy yellow and brown buzzed in front of my nose before settling on one of the nectar-rich flowers just in front. For many years now, people have been talking about habitat preservations and the importance of bees for our fragile ecosystems, and in this moment I suddenly became painfully aware of how few bees I’d actually seen in recent times. In little more than a couple of minutes, this bee hopped across several flowers and off into the distance, to be succeeded by at least half a dozen more.
A silent army of butterflies dappled across my field of vision, restless and ethereal, not settling for long enough to be captured by my camera. In truth, I was all but oblivious to the traffic darting along a few feet behind me.
I took some photos, then stopped and gazed. I half wanted to wade into the midst of it all, but common sense told me that I’d get snagged by a thorny thing or stung by a buzzy one – plus I didn’t want to damage anything. So I simply kept on gazing, getting lost in the swaying stems, the dancing petals and the fluttering insects.
I noticed how small this meadow is, in the grand scheme of things – approximately 40/50 metres in length and between a couple and 15 metres or so wide (it’s kind of a tear-shape), but what an amazing example of putting an otherwise wasted strip to the best possible use.
It was only towards the end that I realised there was a sign on the pavement, explaining who was responsible for the meadow – New Milton Residents’ Association. Bravo to them. I want to contact them, to get the full background on this wonderful project and find out if there are plans to introduce more wildflower meadows in these discarded little corners of Hampshire.
I’ve since seen several further little patches of wildflower meadow in the area, on roundabouts or along central reservations, for example – but not yet one that matches this in intensity or a sense of deliberate cultivation.
For anybody wondering whether they can make a difference, or who doubts how much impact can be made by starting locally, take a moment to reflect on the benefits and the positive knock-on effects of this unassuming enterprise. In fact, it’s THE way to make change happen faster.
Much more effective than signing on-line petitions and ‘reacting’ to social media links, eh? Meanwhile, if you’re ever passing along the coastal roads south of the New Forest at this time of year, come and savour New Milton’s Wildflower Meadow- I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be here for many years to come.
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I am Chairman of the Residents’ Association which sponsors this particular wildflower meadow which is maintained on our behalf by New Milton Town Council. I would like to seek your permission to reproduce this article and some of the pictures in our monthly 24 page full colour Magazine for our Members – giving due acknowledgment to your blog.
During these strange pandemic times, the meadow has only just been reseeded for this year’s show and it would be nice to have some reminders of the displays a few years back.
Would I have your permission to reproduce this article.
Chairman – New Milton Residents’ Association
Hello Alan, as per our telephone conversation today, I’m delighted to feature in your magazine. Thank you for your message and I apologise once again for the tardy reply, due to other commitments during the pandemic.
I like the idea of stealth eco-warriors! We should all be on a beautifying mission in our little corner of the world. What a glorious use of space and such variety of color and shape with this little wildflower heaven.
I knew you’d approve, Alison!I will seriously look at the options when I get a chance i.e. what the law says about distributing wildflower seeds on roadside verges 🙂
What a beautiful surprise that sprung up over the summer! I’d love to do this on some disused land near where we live. I’ve sprinkled wild flower seeds in the past but nothing happened. I think maybe I need to dig them in a bit first to give them more of a change to thrive.
Oooh I never thought of dispersing some wildflower seeds myself – what a great idea! We can all be stealth-eco-warriors!!
Such gorgeous photos – I love to see the bees buzzing around like that, more honey in the making
Thanks Heather, seeing so many bees was encouraging.
Such a lovely idea! There are wildflowers planted in various scrap areas of land around Cheltenham but it has even more impact when it’s a larger area like this. My residents’ association has just adopted an area of land at the top of my road so hopefully that’ll transform another scruffy area too.
Oh my goodness, this is stunning! And I have a vision of making the end of my garden into something like this next spring too! Wow – what a thing to stumble on!
This is so pretty and your pictures are gorgeous. I don’t live too far away either. It does feel like ages ago that we had that heatwave though!
Such lovely photos and so great to see. I recently stumbled across a mini wild flower meadow myself here in Bognor Regis in the neighbouring county of West Sussex. This time though the flowers were in the centre of a formal garden, the Marine Park Gardens in the west of the town. I’ve shared some photos on Instagram but I’ve a few more yet to share.
Thanks – it’s good to know these little meadows are springing up in more places – it’s such an important habitat type! I’ll keep an eye out for more of your Instagram images 🙂